First Line: Did Hirsch own the town?
Tiverton is Constable Paul "Hirsch" Hirschhausen's patch, and one of the first things on his agenda is finding the town snowdropper. Someone is stealing older women's underwear right off their clothes lines, and it's the kind of crime that can escalate. But that's not the only thing that can escalate, as two more phone calls arrive. A teacher thinks a homeschooled child may be in danger, and there's a father on the rampage over at the primary school.
Families are under pressure. There are more and more financial problems. But it's always a surprise when the killing starts.
Author Garry Disher's powerful writing can drag you right into the heart of Australia. In the case of the third Paul Hirschhausen mystery, it's a vast area of villages, farms, and ranches in South Australia "midway between Adelaide and the Flinders Range." I have to admit that I've read the first book in this series, Hell to Pay and somehow missed the second, Peace, but opening Consolation was like coming home, and it would read well as a standalone if you don't want to sign up for all three. (But why would you pass up the chance to read three excellent books?)
Hirsch is a character who found a spot in my brain and burrowed in. Reading this book was like I'd never left him. This man takes his job seriously, and he has a routine that he follows which means he covers his entire area of responsibility each week. That all gets thrown up in the air when his superior officer is injured and he has to take over her station as well. I wonder if the citizens realize just how much they take this one man for granted? Whenever one of them knocked at the Tiverton Station door and Hirsch wasn't there to take care of the problem, the person would throw a hissy fit. These folks are used to having him at their beck and call. He's spoiled them.
And there's a lot he has to deal with. The snowdropper (love that term) is the least of his problems. Hirsch takes charge when a little girl needs help, and he finds himself chasing a father and son who've gone on the lam. Scammers are targeting elderly women and their life savings. He works on each case, always working on the why as well as the who. Why did the father and son think the only option they had was becoming fugitives? Why was the little girl treated that way? It makes for good policing and for good reading. And guess what? Hirsch is doing all this while he's being stalked. When it rains, it pours.
If you're in the mood for a fast-paced slice-of-life mystery about the life of a small-town Australian cop, get your hands on a copy of Consolation. It's a good'un.